CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY- Three suspected members of the Maute terror group from Lanao Del Sur were collared by police operatives in Cagayan de Oro City Sunday evening, the police said Monday.
Chief Inspector Mardi Hortilloza, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO), identified the suspects as Cedic Oroca, Odin Alamada and Sainoden Solaiman, all from Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur.
He said that the three suspects were arrested in a lodging house along the highway here, after the police raided the hotel where the three suspects earlier stayed before transferring to the lodging house.
In an interview with PNA, Hortilloza said that the suspects have checked in at the hotel last Saturday and were supposed to check out Sunday noon. "The hotel management called the suspects late Sunday afternoon to inquire if [they] would extend their stay," Hortilloza said.
He said that the police went to the hotel after the tenants did not answer the hotel management's call, and found a suspected "shabu," a laptop, power banks, electrical wirings and a hand grenade inside the room.
Hortilloza said that charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and illegal drugs would be filed against the suspects before the City Prosecutor's Office on Monday.
Insp. Maricris Mulat, the station commander of the Divisoria police here whose men were among the responding operatives, said that the police also recovered a .45 caliber pistol in one of the cars when the suspects were arrested in a lodging house along Kauswagan Highway.
She said that the local police were alerted by an informant last Saturday that six alleged members of the Maute Group, a known terror group in Lanao Del Sur, were on their way to Cagayan De Oro City.
"We are worried that if three arrested suspects were among the six unidentified persons, the other three suspects could still be in Cagayan De Oro City now. The local police force is now on high alert," Mulat said.
She said that the military and the police are now conducting a joint investigation of the suspects' background in coordination with other intelligence agencies in Northern Mindanao.
One of the suspects, Oroca, denied owning the illegal drugs and the hand grenade, saying the police went inside their hotel room when he was about to check out.
Oroca told investigators that he came to Cagayan De Oro City to buy a second hand vehicle that he could use as a public utility vehicle in addition to his other vehicle in Marawi City.
"I already bought the second hand Toyota FX car for only PHP 130,000. We would be fixing some minor defects like the car's accelerator cable, signal lights, and its horn - the reason we bought some cable, relays and electrical wirings," Oroca said.
Solaiman, another suspect, told the police that he is a mechanic and he was hired to fix the car's defects. The third suspect, Alamada, claimed that he is a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, a paramilitary unit of the Philippine Army in Marawi City.
Source: Philippines News Agency